My horror YA picks
When I was about 9, I read my first Point Horror novel - The Babysitter. Finally, I’d found a series for teens that satisfied my thirst for fast-paced, frightening fiction. It also set off my obsession with horror that now extends to films, computer games, comics, TV shows and of course books. Though I read a lot of adult horror, I have a special love for the YA books that got me into horror in the first place. These are some of my favourite YAs with horror elements.
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
I only read this recently and I still get scared thinking about it. The fantastic thing about this book is that it’s based on a poem about a girl who froze to death, which inspired a toy manufacturer to create real ‘Frozen Charlotte’ dolls that come in their own little coffins. I think it was this real life dimension, and the pervasive creepiness of dolls that move when you don’t expect it, that really got under my skin.
The Forbidden Game trilogy by LJ Smith
The Vampire Diaries books by LJ Smith are popular for a lot of good reasons (Damon and Stefan Salvatore are just two). It was The Forbidden Game books that captivated me as a child. A group of teens are transported into a board game and they have to play their way through a variety of horrifying scenarios to escape. I recently reread this series and it lived up to my memories. It has everything teen me could’ve wanted: a twisted love story, mythology and some truly gruesome scenes that still make me shudder.
If you want to devote your Halloween reading to truly nightmare-inducing subjects, I’d definitely give a book by Dawn Kurtagich a go. The Dead House is a terrifying blend of thriller and horror elements, told through piecemeal evidence of a ‘real’ event: the Johnson incident. This book took my imagination into some unsettling directions and the packaging as something that really happened made it feel horrifyingly possible.
Vassa is a deliciously strange, creepy (and sometimes gruesome) YA based on a Russian fairytale. This book is so refreshing because it includes elements of the fairytale in an evocative modern setting. It draws on several genres, including horror, and manages to be fun, frightening and romantic in equal measure.
This is a selection of short YA horror stories that span a range of creative, unexpected and terrifying subjects. It’s a favourite Halloween read of mine because the stories are so varied and yet equally compelling. My favourite story is a seriously disturbing contribution by Carrie Ryan, but all of them have something to offer.
This book does exactly what it says on the cover: it tells the story of Audrey Rose, a girl who fights against the constraints of the time period by investigating the murders committed by Jack the Ripper. The combination of history and horror worked brilliantly and I want to see more YA like this.